10th Emergency Special Session Resumes & General Assembly Requests

Secretary-General to Report on Jenin and other Palestinian Cities

By the 3rd of May, it had become clear that the U.N. Security Council would once again fail to follow up on its own resolution and to respond to the rejection and contempt of those resolutions publicly expressed by Israel, the occupying Power. The story behind the failure to implement resolution 1405 (2002) was indeed a scandal that went beyond the usual appeasement displayed by the Council in the past towards Israel as a result of the automatic protection provided to it by the U.S.

In reaction to this situation, the Arab Group submitted a formal request to resume the Tenth Emergency Special Session (10th ESS), in accordance with the "Uniting for Peace" formula contained in General Assembly resolution 377 (V) of 1950. South Africa, in its capacity as Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), formally supported the Arab request to resume the session. (The first convening of the 10th ESS was in April 1997 after the Security Council failed to act in response to the Israeli building of a new settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim south of Occupied East Jerusalem.)

The delegation of Palestine then presented a draft resolution, which was endorsed by the Arab Group and NAM during meetings on Monday, 6 May. The draft condemned Israelís refusal to cooperate with the Secretary-General in disregard of Security Council resolution 1405 (2002), as well as the lack of complete implementation of resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002). The draft, inter alia, also requested the Secretary-General to present a report on the events that took place in Jenin and other cities, thus broadening the scope of the report in comparison to that which was requested of the fact-finding team. Negotiations on the draft were held with the participation of several groups and individual Member States, including the European Union (EU), the Rio Group, the Russian Federation and Japan.

The resumed 10th ESS was held on Tuesday, 7 May 2002, with more than 50 representatives inscribed on the list of speakers for the debate. Several speakers later dropped out in the interest of time, in order to ensure that the session could be concluded on the same day since the 27th Special Session of the General Assembly on Children was scheduled to commence the very next day. In general, the overwhelming majority of speakers conveyed a clear message to the Israeli government - rejecting and condemning its military assaults against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority; expressing grave concern at the extensive loss of life and injuries suffered by the Palestinian people, as well as the destruction of both public and private property; condemning the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people; and condemning the flouting of Security Council resolutions and breaches of international humanitarian law and, of course, the refusal to cooperate with the Secretary-General on the fact-finding team to Jenin.

On that day, negotiations continued with Spain, in its capacity as president of the EU, and the two sides appeared to have reached an agreement, on the basis of which a revised draft resolution was introduced to the session. After that, in a sudden change of position, the EU announced that they could not support the draft resolution and they even went on to present a substitute draft.

That change and the idea of a substitute draft was, of course, something that could not be accepted and the cosponsors of the Palestinian draft decided to put their revised text to a vote and requested a separate vote on the paragraph requesting the Secretary-General to present a report. The change in the EU position came as a result of what appeared to be serious external pressure, but also the resistance of a minority group within the EU, in particular the United Kingdom. This led to a change in the Spanish position and consequently the positions of the other members as well. At the last minute, prior to the vote, the Russian delegation then proposed a paragraph-by-paragraph vote, which caused some confusion and caused more embarrassment for the EU due to its abstention at least on some paragraphs.

In the end, resolution ES-10/10 was adopted on 7 May by a vote of 74 in favor, 4 against (Israel, U.S., Micronesia and Marshall Islands), and 54 abstentions. Paragraph 6 of the resolution, which requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report, was adopted by a vote of 120 in favor, 4 against, and 6 abstentions.

The Secretary-General has already requested the Palestinian Authority to provide him with the available information by 27 May 2002. Similar requests have been made to Israel and other Member States. The Palestinian side, of course, will respond positively to this request and hopes that others will do the same. Palestine now expects the presentation of a comprehensive and accurate report by the Secretary-General on all of the atrocities committed by Israel, the occupying Power, including the already proven war crimes committed in Jenin and other Palestinian cities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Such an important report would then require serious follow-up by the U.N. system, especially with regard to holding the perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities responsible under international humanitarian law and international law.